CARTHRAGE, Miss. – A 1,000-pound bull charges into a rodeo in Carthage, Miss. Teenage riders hang on and try to buck the odds of getting hurt, reports CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann.
“I’ve been on some big ones,” said bull rider Jacob Welch.
At 18, Jacob Welch is considered a seasoned rider. He knows the risks.
So does his mother, Lori Welch.
“It still makes me nervous,” said Welch. “I’m his momma.”
Welch keeps her worrying under control by praying.
Would you let your kid ride a 900-pound bull?
“I pray a lot,” said Welch.
Any young bull rider has a split-second decision: Hang on, or let go?
There’s a reason why it’s is called the most dangerous eight seconds in sports.
A rider sees the bull’s churning power from above. The goal? Stay aboard for eight seconds. Falling off is called “wrecking.”
No one’s studied the injury rate for kids riding bulls. But for adults, a 2007 study published in the International SportMed Journal found the rate of injury for bull riding to be 10 times higher than for football and 13 times higher than for ice hockey.
Just last month, 16-year-old rider Brooke Coats was fatally stomped in Florida. She had been riding for a year — and hoped to turn pro.
In 2009, a 900-pound bull killed 12-year-old Wayde Hamar. His mother was not angry: She said her son died doing what he enjoyed most.
“It was a mess,” said head bullfighter Orin Buchanan, who witnessed the tragedy. “One of them very freak accidents. Kid was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
But young riders say if you have the skill, you can’t beat the thrill.
“As long as I could walk and talk,” said Jacob, “I wanted to ride bulls.”
In the rodeo’s family culture and atmosphere, parents of young bull riders do grasp the dangers. Their aspiring riders often start young, riding sheep. Then calves. And finally smaller bulls.
At age 10, Lane Huszar is the youngest bull rider at one rodeo.
“If you’re not nervous, then there’s something wrong with you. But if you’re scared, then you don’t need to do it because you’re gonna get hurt. Bad,” said Lane.
Joe Huszar named his son Lane after Lane Frost, the bull riding legend killed in a 1989 rodeo. Huzsar says he’s there to support his son’s passion — but has reminded Lane of the risks.
“You gotta know that the next time you get on, it’s the last time you could ever breathe,” said Joe.
When asked if he and his wife were OK with that, Joe answered, “Through a lot of prayer we are.”
While the rules on helmets vary, junior bull riders are required to wear mouth guards and safety vests. From there, it’s experience and luck.
“When the gate first opens, you just try to do everything right so you don’t get hurt,” said Jacob.
But before the gate ever opened, another rider, who was 15, screamed for help. Inside the cramped bucking chute, his bull had pinned his foot against the iron railing.
The medics treated his bruises and sent him out to compete.
He wrecked, too. And limped off to ride the bulls — and the odds — another day.